4 May
Posted in: CDL, Racism
By    Comments Off on Hope Grows from Action, Not Thought

Hope Grows from Action, Not Thought

JanWillisOne of the truly inspiring guest teachers at the CDL retreat was Jan Willis, retired Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University and author of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist. She talked about growing up in the Jim Crow South, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (whom she calls “that African-American bodhisattva of our time”), and opening to Buddhism as a way to heal the deep wounds of racism. To those who think Activism is not necessarily a part of Buddhism she responds: Activism goes all the way back to when the Buddha first stood up under that Bodhi tree!  

In Lion’s Roar magazine she writes, “In 1963, as a teenager, I had the good fortune of participating in the ‘Birmingham campaign’ for civil rights led by Reverend King. It was a hopeful time. Feeling part of a larger community of like-minded nonviolent protestors, I felt buoyed up by the possibility of triumph over injustice. When, later, after leaders like Malcolm X, King and the Kennedys had been struck down by violence, a period of hopelessness settled in.

“For many of us today that hopelessness still seems to hold sway. And so, before we endeavor to change the world, we need to rekindle hope again. The thing I’ve learned about hope, however, is that it grows from action, not from thought. If we wish to see an enlightened world of peace and justice for all, we have to move beyond merely imagining it, to nonviolent actions, however small, that will help to usher it in.”

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